Ethically Conducting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Research
Boyer (1990) first articulated that a scholarship of teaching would be one way to “define the work of faculty in ways that reflect more realistically the full range of academic and civic mandates” (p. 16). Bowden (2007) noted that the “inability to refine the scholarship of teaching across disciplines and institutions suggests the waters have become more turbulent” (p. 2). In response to external pressures, both Boyer and Bowden suggested that conducting scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research has become (a) increasingly important for assessing effectiveness of teaching and learning and (b) potentially difficult to measure. What do psychology educators want their students to learn? How do they know students in their classes have learned anything? How can this information be used to improve teaching? These are sample questions that often guide SoTL (Hutchings, 2002). Answers to these questions, if they are documented, generalizable, and public, constitute the research outcomes of SoTL. Halpern et al. (1998) suggested that SoTL research is a new paradigm of scholarship that should include the creation, synthesis, and application of knowledge. Ultimately SoTL research should contribute to excellence in teaching and learning. Conducting ethical pedagogical research is possible with guidance from federal regulations that address research with all human participants (U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services [DHHS], Protection of Human Subjects, 2009). For teachers of psychology, additional guidance is also provided by the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s; 2010) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (hereinafter referred to as the Ethics Code). We begin this chapter with a broad view of research ethics, the protective nature of the institutional review board (IRB), and avoiding coercion and dual relationships and end with practical advice about using student work when experimenting in the classroom.